People who speak English can earn on average ¢148,000 more (US$240) per month and work one hour less per week, than workers in the same conditions but who are not bilingual.

In the photo, UCR researchers Suráyabi Ramírez (lef) and Alejandro Abarca (right) with Labor Minister Steven Núñez (center). Courtesy Ministry of Labor.

The study, Los beneficios laborales del bilingüismo en Costa Rica (The benefits of bilingualism in Costa Rica), conducted by the Observatorio del Desarrollo de la Universidad de Costa Rica (UCR)  – Development Observatory of the University of Costa Rica –  analyzed for the “perks” of the last 13 years on English speaking workers.

Alejandro Abarca and Suráyabi Ramírez, researchers who developed the study, explained that the idea was to know the labor benefits both for all workers and for the private sector specifically since the latter are the ones who usually benefit more recognition for being bilingual.

“If you have an average person, average education, etc., who do not know English but learns, earns ¢148,000 more, that is ¢843 more per hour worked, works 0.8 hours less per week and has statistically significant probabilities of having more vacation time, health insurance, and bonuses,” Abarca explained.

In the case of workers in the private sector specifically, researchers found that if a person does not know the language and learns it, they can earn ¢185,000 more per month and works 1.1 fewer hours per week.

According to the researchers, the differences related to job benefits between those bilingual and those not has remained relatively stable during the years of research.

Abarca explained that this information is of special importance because it allows to know more about the benefits associated with bilingualism.

The researchers took into account a specific portion of the population, analyzing those people between 35 and 65 who work between 30 and 60 hours per week.

For his part, Labor Minister Steven Nunez said the country has been making important efforts to expand language learning.


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